PICK! ASR Theater ~~ Trashy Treasure: Lucky Penny’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical”

By Barry Willis

The vast underbelly of American culture gets hilariously gutted in The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Napa’s Lucky Penny Productions through June 24.

Welcome to Armadillo Acres, a mobile home community in the town of Starke, Florida, a place where cheap beer, flimsy housing, and low-budget/low IQ entertainment combine in a toxic froth, where all things inconceivably tacky are a way of life.

…another Lucky Penny winner that could easily play to sold-out houses all summer long…

Lucky Penny’s10th anniversary of a production first staged in 2012 at Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse, this Trailer Park features five original cast members. Comic genius Daniela Innocenti-Beem shines as “Bad Ass Betty,” mother hen to a brood of spunky but unlucky residents, including the agoraphobic Jeannie (Julianne Bradbury) who struggles mightily to step outside her door; Jeannie’s toll-taker husband Norbert (Mark Bradbury, an astounding theatrical chameleon); Pickles (Kirstin Pieschke), suffering from “hysterical pregnancy;” and the lusty Linoleum (Shannon Rider), whose husband is on death row in a Florida penitentiary.

His ultimate fate hasn’t diminished her enthusiasm for life’s fundamental pleasures—she coos with delight when retrieving her latest copy of “North Florida Prison Wife Digest” with a feature story about spicing up conjugal visits.

“The Great American Trailer Park” Musical ensemble at work.

Into their midst comes a fetching stripper named Pippi (Taylor Bartolucci) who immediately arouses the attention of Norbert—and the suspicions of female neighbors. Later we meet the gun-waving, Magic Marker-sniffing redneck Duke (Skyler King), Pippi’s volatile estranged husband who’s tracked her down with the intention of reclaiming what he thinks is his. A marvelous plot twist involving Jeannie and Norbert won’t be revealed here!

Backed by Justin Pyle’s hard-driving four-piece band high above stage right, the show is a wild celebration of life on the other side of the tracks—the subject of the first song-and-dance production. Composer David Nehls’ songs are upbeat, engaging, and unlike in many contemporary musicals, have actual melodies that propel really clever lyrics right into the hearts of a very receptive audience. Most songs—not all—are delivered by the trio of Betty, Linoleum, and Pickles in a pastiche that recalls the doo-wop girls of Little Shop of Horrors. Staci Arriaga’s intentionally goofy choreography is the perfect reinforcement.

Act One closes with Jeannie’s dream sequence—a spoof of Jerry Springer-type televised fare to which she’s addicted. Innocenti-Beem is ideal as the host of the show-within-a-show. The song “The Great American TV Show” manages in short order to skewer everything not otherwise included in the all-encompassing script by Betsy Kelso.

Act Two opens with “Flushed Down the Pipes,” a fatalistic anthem that segues into “Storm’s A-Brewin’ “—an acknowledgement of Florida reality, where there’s a massive electrical storm nearly every afternoon. True fact (a Midwestern phrase also spoken in Florida): the state has the nation’s highest rate of lightning deaths, most of which take place on golf courses—proof that residents of America’s dangling appendage are too dim to come in out of the rain…

(L-to-R) Innocenti-Beem, Pieschke, Rider, J. Bradbury at work at Lucky Penny Productions.

Director/set designer Barry Martin has concocted both a perfectly wince-inducing neighborhood and a lively bunch of twisted residents to fill it, with antics that will have you laughing for days. Martin confessed post-show that having grown up in the Ozarks, he’s on especially intimate terms with the show’s characters.

For those who can’t get enough home-grown lowbrow culture, some of the show’s essential themes also figure into The Legend of Georgia McBride and the regrettably too-short TBS series Claws.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical is scheduled for a Christmas season revival this year, and tickets are disappearing quickly. They’re also selling briskly for the current production—we can only hope that it enjoys an extended run. It’s another Lucky Penny winner that could easily play to sold-out houses all summer long.


Aisle Seat Review Executive Editor Barry Willis is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and president of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. Contact: barry.m.willis@gmail.com


ProductionThe Great American Trailer Park Musical
Written byBetsy Kelso
Music & LyricsDavid Nehls
Directed byBarry Martin
Producing CompanyLucky Penny Productions
Production DatesThru June 24th
Production AddressLucky Penny Community Arts Center
1758 Industrial Way
Napa, CA 94558
Telephone(707) 266-6305
Reviewer ScoreMax in each category is 5/5
Aisle Seat Review Pick?YES!